ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Orioles sent non-roster catcher Mark Parent to minor-league camp yesterday, but he has been given the option of seeking a contract with another major-league club if he does not want to join the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings.
Parent was invited to camp to compete for the reserve catcher role, but he was signed primarily to provide depth at the Triple-A level. The situation wasn't made clear until after the club opened the preseason.
"I didn't know that until I met with Johnny [Oates, the manager] a week after we got to St. Petersburg," Parent said. "I thought there was a real opportunity here. I've fired my agent since then. The sad thing is, there were clubs that showed interest in me -- Philadelphia, St. Louis and one other -- but the club wouldn't let us talk to them."
Oates said that he hopes Parent will accept the assignment, since the club needs someone with major-league experience to wait in the wings in case there is a need during the season.
"Selfishly, I would like to have him go to Rochester," Oates said. "Personally, I hope he gets an opportunity."
Parent is trying to come back from major surgery to repair his left knee. He suffered extensive ligament damage in a home-plate collision last spring. He had played sparingly in Grapefruit League action, going hitless in nine at-bats.
"The good news is, I found out that my knee is healthy," he said. "But I've played 10 years in the minor leagues. I don't know if I want to start over again."
* TELFORD OPTIONED: Righthander Anthony Telford left for Twin Lakes Park without complaint. He was optioned to Rochester yesterday along with lefthander Dennis Rasmussen, but he could see it coming for weeks.
"If you look around and you don't put the pieces of the puzzle together, you're an idiot," he said. "They didn't pitch me like a reliever, so I knew I wasn't going to pitch in relief, and the rest of the starters pitched great.
"I'm glad they pitched great. That means we're going to have a winning team. I've never seen a team that didn't call somebody up during the season, so I'm going to go down and pitch well. I'm going to throw 200 innings somewhere."
Rasmussen, though surprised, also remained upbeat.
"I've shown that I can start or pitch out of the bullpen. If one of the 10 guys goes down, they are going to need somebody. I plan on pitching well [at Rochester]. I want to be that guy."
* RAIN, RAIN: Last night's game between the Orioles and the Minnesota Twins was canceled because of unplayable field conditions. A three-hour thunderstorm left several inches of water on the field at Al Lang Stadium, convincing the umpires to call the game for the safety of the players.
Scheduled starter Ben McDonald, who has had three appearances delayed or postponed by rain, will make up his innings in a minor-league camp game today. The rain-out will not affect the pitching plans Oates announced earlier in the day -- with Bob Milacki, Ben McDonald and Mike Mussina following Rick Sutcliffe's Opening Day start.
* TOUGHEST CUT: Righthander Eric Hetzel will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair damage to his rotator cuff on Thursday in Birmingham, Ala. His season appears to be over, but he said nothing will be known for sure until Dr. James Andrews gets a look inside the shoulder.
"They are going to 'scope it, remove some scar tissue, and he thinks I have an internal rotator cuff tear," Hetzel said. "I guess anything can happen."
He said he will begin a rehabilitation program under the direction of the club as soon as possible.